As I write this a large proportion of the UK has ground to a halt due to a fluffy weather phenomenon called snow. We have about 10cm of snow here and it’s rapidly thickening with the current blizzard. Have to count ourself lucky. Just 15 miles north of us people are battling with waist height snow.People are panic buying bread and other ‘essentials’ in the supermarket, ahem flour, yeast & salt = make as much bread as you want. Good on the postman, milkman and coalman for getting through.
Key to cooking when snowed in is always having a storecupboard of basic ingredients. Tinned tomatoes, pasta, lentils, tinned beans, rice, tinned fruit, various dried herbs, stock cubes, bag of peas in the freezer, random veg, with cheese in the fridge along with the baking trinity of flour, sugar, butter can make many a meal. A quick search on websites like BBC Good Food and Delicious can turn random ingredients in to a delicious meal. Think Ready Steady Cook (RIP) without the annoying presenter. Previous Snow Day cooking has involved soup, focaccia and homemade Nutella.
As stunning this snow can look there is disadvantage of being freelance in this weather; when my work is cancelled I don’t get paid. I now have a job lot of gingerbread men ingredients. So if we run out of everything else we’ll live on gingerbread or Claire’s Ginger Cake or I’ll be flogging them to passing motorists. At least it’s not ingredients that are ready to perish. Spare a thought for Fi Bird who has a tonne of lettuces due to a cancelled class.
This lentil chilli changes every time it’s made as it determines what we have in. It’s a great standby storecupboard dinner and a way of using left over veg. Works well with both rice and couscous.
based on Dinner Diary’s Lentil Ragu
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped (more if you like it hot)
300g lentils (I usuall do 1/2 red lentils and 1/2 puy lentils)
125ml red wine
1 tbsp tomato purée
250ml beef or veg stock
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tin kidney beans
1) In a large saucepan sauté the onions in 1tbsp oil until soft. Add the garlic, chilli and tomato purée then fry for a couple of minutes.
2) Stir in the lentils then pour in the wine. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the remaining ingredients (apart from kidney beans) and simmer for 45-50 minutes until lentils have softened. Add the kidney beans and simmer for another 10 minutes.